Rafah offensive would lead to 'humanitarian disaster': UN chief

Antonio Guterres warns that the situation in the southern Gaza city is "on a knife's edge"

By AFP

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Palestinians load a vehicle with belongings as they move to safer areas in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. — AFP
Palestinians load a vehicle with belongings as they move to safer areas in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. — AFP

Published: Fri 10 May 2024, 6:07 PM

An Israeli ground attack in Gaza's Rafah would lead to an "epic humanitarian disaster", UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Friday after negotiators left truce talks in Cairo without a deal.

"A massive ground attack in Rafah would lead to (an) epic humanitarian disaster and pull the plug on our efforts to support people as famine looms," Guterres said during a visit to Nairobi, adding that the situation in the southern Gaza city was "on a knife's edge".


"We are actively engaged with all involved for the resumption of the entry of life-saving supplies — including desperately needed fuel — through Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings," he said, reiterating his calls for a ceasefire.

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AFP journalists witnessed artillery strikes on Rafah, after US President Joe Biden vowed in an interview to cut off artillery shells and other weapons for Israel if a full-scale offensive into the city goes ahead.

It was the first time Biden raised the ultimate US leverage over Israel — military aid totalling $3 billion a year — after repeated appeals for Israel to stay out of Rafah.

Despite widespread international opposition, Israeli troops on Tuesday entered Rafah's eastern sector, saying they were pursuing militants.

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